How often do I need to get a Pap test?

It depends on your age and health history. Talk with your doctor about what is best for you. The AmericanCongress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the following if your pap smears have always been normal.

  • If you are between 21 and 30 years old, you should get a Pap test every year.
  • If you are age 30 or older and have had three normal Pap tests for three years in a row, talk to your doctor about spacing out Pap tests to every two or three years.
  • If you are at least 70 and have had at least three normal Pap tests and no abnormal Pap tests in the last 10 years, ask your doctor if you can stop having Pap tests.

You should have a Pap test every year no matter how old you are if:

  • You have a weakened immune system because of organ transplant, chemotherapy
  • Your mother was exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnant
  • You are HIV-positive

Women who are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are at a higher risk of cervical cancer and other cervical diseases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all HIV positive women get an initial Pap test, and get re-tested 6 months later. If both Pap tests are normal, then these women can get yearly Pap tests in the future.